From a grateful Food Pantry director
By Sandy Donovan/Chelmsford Community Exchange
Wednesday, December 13, 2006 - Updated: 15:13 PM EST
There are not enough words to express the gratitude and appreciation
for the multiple donations of food we received for Thanksgiving. I am
sure there were many tears of joy and appreciation at many tables on
that day. Over a thousand people enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal due to
every aspect of this community and surrounding communities' generosity.
We have been so blessed that this week we were still able to give extra food to the families that came to us for help.
Our numbers are increasing again, including our own community, as the
cold weather sets in and people have to make choices between heat and
food. Our senior families have increased, too, especially in
Chelmsford. Also, families are doubling up or sometimes three are
living together to make ends meet in all communities including our own
here in Chelmsford.
Our wings are still spreading as we are working with St. Joseph's St.
Vincent DePaul Society in Lincoln providing food for 18 families every
month. People find it hard to believe that there are pockets of poverty
in that community. But many families are living in subsidized
apartments with no where to turn except St. Vincent DePaul Society and
by us providing the food for these families monthly helps to this free
up their money to help in other areas for people just trying to make it
day to day. There is no local transportation except for the train so it
is hard for people to seek out the necessary help they need as many do
not have their own mode of transportation.
I have been working with St. Mary's Saint Vincent DePaul Society for
years as they send the families to me for food and I have opened up on
our days we are closed for emergency help. I give gift certificates for
them to use, too and will be leaving one emergency bag of food for them
to take to a family or if someone comes unexpectedly to the door for
food, it will be there to give to a family facing hunger with no means
to buy food.
We were able to bring food twice to St. Patrick's School in Lowell for
20 families that are taking adult education classes and some of the
families with transportation have come to our pantry. The classes end
this week and resume in March when we will continue bringing food to
those families that need help twice a month.
Hopefully, we are in the process of helping another church and I should
be able to let you know about this in the new year. What happens when
we open the door and extend an invitation to help with food to free up
other resources within a church is that many people that are in
difficult financial situations come forward and are so grateful for
that little extra money they can save towards heat or some other
necessity in their life for the food we provide and the church can help
them in other areas, too, otherwise they would have to spend on food
There are many pockets of poverty that are invisible because they exist
in the suburbs and by outward appearances no one is aware there are any
financial difficulties. Again we go back to archaic guidelines of the
poverty threshold at $20,000 or less up to 200 percent ? $40,000 ? for
a family of four.
I have found this out during this season of giving as I am in the
process of getting families adopted for Christmas. Families or
companies that would adopt a family then find itself in a pinch
themselves but still reach out and help as many as they can afford.
Again the picture of the economy is not what it is in real life.
As I have said before many of my families are working two jobs. I will
give you an example: A mother raising three boys on her own works at a
local supermarket during the day and part time at UPS nights. Her older
son watches his two younger brothers when she works at UPS. She waits
for her food in line on Friday night and never complains about the
weather or anything even though she has to go to work that night and
has worked all day. If I see her in line I pull her in so she can get
her food and get home to rest awhile before going to work
I saw her a few days ago in Chelmsford and asked her if she would like
her family to be adopted. She said, yes! She didn?t want anything for
herself but convinced her to get at least one thing as a family
adopting another family always wants to get the parent something but
her one non-clothes item for her house is pots and pans. She has only a
frying pan and one pan to cook with. It was by the grace of God I saw
her Sunday as I just came back from retreat and had not been to the
pantry for a week that our paths crossed. Her family has been adopted
for Christmas. She was ecstatic when I called her last night to tell
her. Again, many stories to tell but there?s not enough space to write
about all of them.
We could not help all the families that we do in other areas besides
food if it wasn't for your generosity. We couldn't buy the special
foods that diabetics, people with high blood pressure and other dietary
health problems need for their diets. You keep this ?Little Pantry with
the Big Heart? beating by your generosity. Actually without your help
we would be able to do very little to help families.
For those needing help with food we are now open on Saturdays again for
the next six months until May 26, 2007 from Noon until 1:30 p.m. Food
pick up on Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m. and Friday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. is
year round. Community drop-off is every Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 1
p.m. or 6:45 to 7:45 p.m. We keep them separate to keep it as
confidential as possible for families coming for help.
Your hands are very generous and we couldn't do it without your time,
talent or treasure! Again I say thank you for making Thanksgiving so
special for so many families and I know you will be as generous at
Christmas, too; as you have always responded to the need of those
facing financial difficulties. If you would like to adopt a family for
Christmas or give us gift certificates to give them please let me know
before Thursday, Dec. 21.
Monetary donations may be made to Chelmsford Community Exchange, Inc., P.O. Box 394, Chelmsford, MA 01824.
For further information go to our web site www.homepage.mac.com/poptech/Pantry/Pantry.html.
Add it your favorites and it just says Pantry.
I can be reached at 978 250-3818 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
May you be blessed like you have blessed others during this season of Advent as we prepare for Christmas.
Sandy Donovan is the founder and director of the Chelmsford Community Exchange.